Freelancer

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In Syria, the quandary of freelance news coverage

As Syria becomes riskier for both staff and freelance journalists, news organizations are more reliant on images from citizen journalists. An example is this image showing devastation in Aleppo, which was taken by the Aleppo Media Center and transmitted by The Associated Press on Sunday. (AP/Aleppo Media Center)

Forces on all sides of the Syrian conflict that have tried to censor news coverage through violence have won a round. By sharply increasing the risk for reporters covering the civil war they have forced news organizations to think twice before sending their staff to the battlefields. In a worrying development they even have led a leading UK newspaper, the Sunday Times, for which Marie Colvin was on assignment when she was killed last year in Homs, to refuse photographs submitted by freelancers.

(Filming for Tibet)

New York, November 5, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists has created a petition that calls on Chinese President Hu Jintao to immediately release unjustly imprisoned Tibetan journalist Dhondup Wangchen.

Stressed out: How should newsrooms handle trauma?

A TV crew reports on the shooting in Colorado from a parking lot across the street. (AFP/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

The rampage inside a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured dozens more is the most recent reminder that a journalist anywhere can face sudden, great emotional stress. Any story involving tragedy--from domestic violence to natural disasters--can inflict an emotional toll on field journalists. The very empathy that makes a journalist a good storyteller puts him or her at risk.

Should J-School grads just get up and go overseas?

Photographers take cover behind a barricade during a protest in Egypt last year. Journalists are often forced to take deadly risks when working in war zones, usually with limited training and no insurance. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

The guidance is hardly clear. At a Columbia University event last week pegged to the release of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide, one journalism student said he and his classmates are getting contradictory advice. Many J-school professors, he said, have encouraged him and others to just get up, go overseas, and try to make it as a freelancer. But the experienced journalists speaking at the event advised caution.

After photographer Tim Hetherington, seen here in Libya, died in April 2011, friend Sebastian Junger started an organization to train freelancers in battlefield first aid. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Stop the bleeding. It's a critical and fundamental step in aiding a journalist or anyone wounded in conflict. Hemorrhage is the number one preventable death on the battlefield. And yet large numbers of journalists covering wars and political unrest all across the world are untrained in this life-saving skill. It doesn't need to be that way.

This screenshot from Sánchez's video is said to show police chasing protesters from the site of a proposed dam. (YouTube)

New York, February 29, 2012--Colombian freelance journalist and activist Bladimir Sánchez Espitia fled his home state today for the capital city after receiving death threats related to a video he posted on YouTube, according to the Bogotá-based Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP). News reports said the video showed anti-riot police forcibly removing protesters from the construction site of a controversial hydroelectric dam in central Huila department.

New York, September 21, 2011--An Indian journalist who covered police violence in the state of Chhattisgarh was recently arrested on antistate charges that human rights groups say are retaliatory, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At a protest in Bangkok, images of the jailed journalist Hla Hla Win. (AP/Sakchai Lalit)

Published September 20, 2011

Burma has a long record of jailing independent journalists, ranking among the world’s five worst jailers of the press for four consecutive years, CPJ research shows. Journalists are typically charged with violating the country’s censorship laws, among the strictest in the world, or engaging in “antistate” activities such as disseminating information to the outside world. 

New York, September 19, 2011--Iranian authorities have arrested six independent filmmakers on vague accusations that they engaged in a foreign conspiracy in connection with a critical new documentary about Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to news accounts. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrests and calls for the journalists' immediate release.

Hetherington working in Benghazi in March. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)
Hondros in Liberia in 2003 (Getty Images)

New York, April 20, 2011--Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, acclaimed photojournalists who had worked in conflict zones around the world, were killed in an explosion in the western Libyan city of Misurata today. Two other photographers were injured. Hetherington co-directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Restrepo," while Hondros was a 2004 Pulitzer Prize finalist for "his powerful and courageous coverage" of unrest in Liberia.

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